Because I fly out next Friday night.
This is a week old, but still well worth our attention. A Texas district attorney is on trial for -- among other things -- using office funds to build himself an awesome computer system for his office:
The computer – equipped with two hard drives, seven fans, high-end video and audio cards, a wireless Internet connection and cables that glow under ultraviolet light – is designed for playing video games, prosecutors say.
Alan Timberlake, assistant director of information technology for Rockwall County, called the computer "gimmicky" and more suited to a college dorm room than an office.
Rod Gregg, an FBI senior forensic examiner, said 80 percent of the content he found on the computer appeared to be personal rather than work-related...
"I would not configure a backup computer in that way," Mr. Gregg said.
Via Penny Arcade.
And via Crooked Timber, a primer on How to Read the Economist. Over on CT, a bunch of people are saying, oh yeah, I stopped reading the Economist a few years ago. Well, the difference between me and all of those other guys is that I can prove it:
[T]oday I had chance to buy this week's Economist... and I just didn't.
I think there's been a slight but noticeable decline in quality over the last couple of years. I can't quite put my finger on it, but the level of the writing seems to have dipped just a bit. Also, the ideological stuff seems closer to the surface.
Maybe it's just because, after several years of reading it every week, I now can predict what they're going to write just from knowing the topic...
May 2005. Hey, nice to be ahead of the zeitgeist on something.
Meanwhile: with an eternity yet to go before the Pennsylvania primary, and three times that long before the primary season can even possibly end, John Rogers makes a point.
Okay, let's finish with stuff that really matters: tiny humans in Micronesia. No, seriously. Briefly: a cache of really small skeletons has been found on the island of Palau. Like, pygmy-small. Adult males around 40-45 kilos. Everybody's thinking Flores hobbits, right? But they date from pretty recently -- just a couple, maybe three thousand years old -- and they appear at first blush to be Homo Sapiens.
What were they? Well, two possibilities. One, they're an unknown pygmy-like people who lived in the islands before the current Palauans. It's worth noting that there are small-ish modern peoples scattered around SE Asia. The other possibility is that they were humans who were subject to island dwarfism. Either of these would be pretty fascinating. Both explanations are complicated by the fact that modern, normal-sized human remains (pdf)have been found on Palau within that same time range(pdf), with pottery shards and tools that are even older.
So, did the ancestors of modern Palauans (who are perfectly normal sized) coexist with these guys? The main island of Palau is large (over 100 square miles), rugged, and covered with jungle, so it's just remotely plausible. They must have been exploiting pretty different niches, though.
I-just-happen-to-know-that pretty much all the islands of Micronesia (and most of Polynesia too) have legends of little people who lived before the first ancestors of the present inhabitants arrived. (Why do I know that? Because I lived in the Marianas Islands for seven years. Visited Palau several times. It's nice.) AFAIK this is the first archeological evidence that these legends were anything more than tropical leprechauns. I find this way, way cool.